Make-and-Learn Crafts: Tie-Dye Tees and Paper Pinwheels for a Spirited 4th

Filed under: Holidays, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids

Red, white and blue and your all set for a festive Fourth. Credit: Gina Provenzano


Make Independence Day festivities even more of a blast with DIY patriotic paper pinwheels and tie-dye tees.

Summer celebrations call for outdoor activities and star-spangled gear. Psychedelic tie-dye t-shirts are easy to make, and they're impossible to mess up. Kids will take pride in their work, no matter how they come out and then model their finished fashions for your July 4th celebration.

While they're at it, why not embellish the table as well as the tots? Twirling stars-and-stripes pinwheels add sizzle as a centerpiece when stuck in a bucket of sand. Or, they make a great garden decoration.

Here's how to make both projects:

Kids will love wearing tie-dye tee shirts they make themselves. Credit: Gina Provenzano


Tie-Dye Tees

What You'll Need:
• White cotton t-shirts, tanks or other top
• Large plastic trash bag
• Rubber gloves
• Rubber bands
• Bucket of water
• Paper towels
• Fabric dye, red and blue in applicator bottles (check out Tulip's single bottle applicators)
• Measuring cup filled with water
• Large plastic bags or plastic wrap

What To Do:
1. Prepare working surface by laying the garbage bag on a flat surface. Assemble all the needed materials.
2. Wet shirts in bucket of water , then ring out so that shirts are still damp, but not dripping.
3. For spiral design: Pinch shirt at center and turn as you keep pinching. Fabric will wrap around itself to look like a small disk. Adults can help to gather ends and secure with rubber bands. Place a band around the outer part of the disk to hold it in place. Then place two or three around it to look like a pie.
For stripes design: Vertically fold the shirt, accordion-style with about 1-inch folds. Then roll the folded shirt from bottom to top. Secure with bands around outside edge, then two more bands around the roll like a pie.
For heart design: Fold shirt in half vertically with the front face out. Use a light pen to draw half a heart shape along edge. Gather the fabric with fingers along the drawn line. Place a rubber band on the line and double over several times to be tight. Add additional bands like rings along the rest of the shirt. Now you are ready for dying.
4. Put on gloves. An adult should open applicator bottles and pour water a little at a time to fill. Shake well. TIP: Be careful, the dye bubbles up like soda as it reacts.
5. Squirt colors in desired areas. Squirt into the folds and gathers and also along the banded lines. Make sure not to overlap colors too much or result will be muddy. Saturate the dye, leaving some white space, but don't saturate to the point of dripping.
6. Place dyed shirt into a plastic bag, or roll in plastic wrap and let sit for 6 to 8 hours.
7. Put gloves on again, and remove shirt from plastic. Cut off or remove the rubber bands. Rinse shirt in bucket of water and hang dry.
8. NOTE: Shirts should be laundered separately in cold water for the first couple of washes.

A paper pinwheel looks great in the garden or on the holiday table. Credit: Gina Provenzano

Patriotic Paper Pin-Wheels

What You'll Need:
• Small 1/4-inch dowel, cut to about 12 to 16 inches in length OR heavy cardboard, cut to same length by 3/4 inch wide
• Thin nail with a flat head, about 1 1/2 inches long
• Hammer
• Block of wood for protecting surface
• Small beads
• Pencil
• Scissors
• Ruler
• Double-sided scrapbooking paper in red, white and blue patterns

What To Do:
1. Measure and mark a 7-inch square on paper. Cut out square.
2. Use ruler to draw diagonal lines from corner to corner to form an "X" on paper. Measure and mark a point 3/4" from center of "X" along each line.
3. Cut along diagonal line stopping at marked point.
4. Fold one corner into center and hold with finger. Repeat for each of the four corners. Secure by poking the nail with one bead threaded on it, through all layers at the center point. Use the wood underneath to protect the surface. Twirl nail to widen hole.
5. Thread two more beads onto the nail behind the pinwheel.
5. With adult supervision, gently hammer nail into the dowel, about 1/2 inch from end. Leave some room between washers and dowel to spin freely.

Related: Make July 4th Fireworks Cupcakes

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.